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EPA's NOLA water-testing methods under fire

Delusional Mayor Nagin’s so hot to get people back in that festering pool of disease and filth that he plans to open the French Quarter and business district next week, even if the water’s only good for flushing toilets.

How long before the EPA says it’s ok to drink the water in NOLA — and would you believe them? The EPA’s internal critic and others say the testing methods are highly questionable.

The agency’s sampling program has just begun, but already it has been criticized by EPA employees, by scientists advising the agency on how to conduct the sampling program and by environmental groups, who say the agency hasn’t moved quickly enough to protect the health of emergency personnel and residents who have stayed in or returned to New Orleans.


Mmm..mmm…good.

New water samples released Wednesday were similar to those released by the EPA last week, except the levels of e. coli and coliform, were 10 times higher. Several samples contained as many as 18,000 colonies of bacteria, compared to the 200-colony EPA standard for recreational swimming.

…Several samples also showed significant levels of lead and small amounts of toluene, a volatile organic compound often associated with gasoline or refineries.

Conspicuously absent, however, were any readings of benzene, a chemical used in the manufacture of gasoline to boost octane, or other chemicals found in crude oil or gasoline.

That led longtime EPA internal critic Hugh Kaufman, senior policy analyst for the agency’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, to call the results “bogus.”

“Benzene and compounds like benzene are in the oil products in the water that everyone can see,” Kaufman said. “If they come up zero on readings of benzene, the sampling is bogus. Whether it’s incompetence or malice, I don’t know, but there’s no way to have all that oil in the water and have zero benzene.”

Kaufman urged the agency to conduct detailed investigations of the water and the sediment left behind before allowing the public back in and urged that emergency workers be provided with protective clothing and respirators until it’s clear there are no toxic chemicals in the water.

Thanks to Paul’s Rants for the pointer.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding